We are pleased to partner with Argyle Secondary School’s journalism class for some student articles. First up: Oscar Robindell! 

As the weather heats up, students enjoy their summer break, and tourists flock to Vancouver, Lynn Creek and other rivers and lakes become popular spots to cool down. However, the shimmering cool water hides great danger, and a fun day with friends can quickly turn into tragedy.

From rivers to the sea

Paul DeGrace

First responders continue to attend many calls each year from swimmers and boaters in distress, and Lynn Creek alone has claimed three lives since 2016, two of them youth. Being prepared and knowledgeable will avoid an adventure that could end in injury or even death. “Despite these examples, this is not to say that swimming anywhere in the North Shore is unsafe. Residents of Lynn Valley are lucky to be surrounded by beautiful lakes, rivers, and ocean, and while it is key to be aware of danger, swimming and boating can be safe activities with proper precautions.

Both rivers and the ocean present their own sets of risks. Paul DeGrace of the Royal Canadian Marine Search and Rescue says that people don’t appreciate how big of a factor the winds, currents and tides are. 

“Even in an area that’s right in front of North Van on the beaches there, the currents can be very strong and so can the wind.” he said. “So we get a lot of people who are out on a paddle board, and they just think, oh, ‘I’m just going to go out a hundred meters from shore, I’m right there and can see everyone.’ And all of a sudden, the wind has picked up or the tide is flooding and it’s pushing them toward the bridge.” 

He said that not being apathetic about the danger of being out from shore is key, and that the shipping lanes and under the bridges are very dangerous for a paddleboard or kayak.

 “If you are on the water, it is having a life jacket, although most people on paddle board and kayaks don’t tend to have life jackets, even though they’re supposed to.”

Close calls

Rivers like Lynn Creek are equally dangerous, and with the rise of social media, Lynn Valley has gained attention internationally as a cliff-jumping spot. Cliff jumping is not safe, and many have died on the North Shore as a result of it, yet it remains a popular activity for teens and young adults.

 “August last year, I was cliff jumping at Lynn Canyon,” said Lucas Fleet, a recent graduate of Argyle Secondary. “There was a jump by 90-foot pool, even before where the big jumps start. I had done the jump 10 or 15 times before, with a wall run then a front flip, but that time I got sloppy and unlucky because I had done it so many times I forgot there was danger. I did the front flip but I landed in a very shallow part with rocks so I hit my kneecap on the rock.”

Luckily, he was able to walk out and make it to the rangers, but ended up with a broken kneecap that put him in crutches for three weeks. Fleet says to be careful and that many of the pools have hidden logs brought in from the winter, and may be very shallow. 

“Cliff jumping alone is probably one of the most dangerous things that you can do,” said Fleet, who is thankful he had friends there to help him.

Local knowledge

Before you go out on the water, please ensure you have a good understanding of the area you’ll be in, says DeGrace. 

“If you know your landmarks and know where you are and can give good local knowledge landmarks, that’s very helpful to us because we are search and rescue and we can’t rescue you if we can’t find you,” said DeGrace.

His last piece of advice is very important:  if you find yourself in a dire situation on the water, please phone 911 immediately and avoid a worse situation.

 “Call when you’re first in trouble and don’t wait,” said DeGrace. “It can be embarrassing but who cares if you’re healthy and uninjured.” 

It’s better to be embarrassed than embalmed.

For those between 16 and 18 interested in learning more about and training with marine search and rescue, check out North Vancouver Marine Search and Rescue’s junior program! Go to rcmsar2.com, or email [email protected] for more information.

Written by Oscar Robindell, Argyle Secondary student

Looking for more?

There’s always something fun and exciting happening in Lynn Valley. Check out our Community Events Calendar or learn more about Local Activities, Mountain Biking or Hiking and Walking Trails.

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